Friday, September 19, 2008

Hey... this seems familiar....

I was reading a great blog by GetRichSlowly yesterday which talked about how we are influenced by a large inescapable amount of advertising. When I taught a class in critical thinking, I spent a good deal of time on advertising.

Studies show that one exposure to a brand name product isn’t likely to produce a change in shopping behavior; repeated exposure makes us consumers more likely to recognize a product. Guess what happens when we see that product in a store? We tend to like it because we think it feels familiar and then we normally buy it.

While reading GetRichSlowly’s blog I was wondering how much marketing serum I’m drinking a day. I know TV is the biggest producer of advertising, but what I’m interested in is magazines. While I only subscribe to a few magazines, I had the insane curiosity to find out how much of what I’m subscribing to is ads.

So I went through a stack of recent magazines and I cut out the articles I was interested in. While I realize that this is only something a semi-crazy person would do, what I was left with was the amount of ads compared to the amount of articles. As the photo above shows, I’ve been reading probably 40% content and 60% ads! This is something that I pay to have come to my door every month!

What was funny was that my Money magazine had almost as many ads as my women's lifestyle magazines. Let me repeat that: my financial magazine had almost as many ads as the magazines I get that are explicitly devoted to shopping for clothes and home d├ęcor!


I agree with GetRichSlowly. It’s impossible to cut out all advertising- heck, I’ve come to realize that I enjoy getting these stacks of advertisements in the mail every month! While all of his tips for resisting advertising on his blog are good (resist the urge and take back your brain), I’d like to add my own: When you are shopping think critically about what you are buying.

Being a critical thinker while shopping means that you truthfully ask yourself: What are my underlying reasons for wanting to buy this item? If you make shopping a mindless activity that you participate in, you’ll end up buying items that you don’t need. While you may not be able or willing to reduce your exposure to marketing; if you get into the habit of being an alert, savvy shopper it will save you money for years to come.

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